In October 2010, the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) introduced a new section named “Independent Driving” to the UK driving test. This was designed to help introduce learner drivers to some of the real driving conditions that they will face on the roads once they have passed their driving test. To successfully pass the “Independent driving” section of your test, you must be able to demonstrate the ability to drive without instruction, making your own decisions under your own initiative. A good driving school like A Pass 4 U, would have been teaching Independent driving long before it became part of the UK driving test, for example, by asking pupils to make their own way home at the end of a driving lesson.
What can I expect to happen on my driving test?
Independent driving shifts the focus, for its part, to real world driving with less focus on standard driving manoeuvres such as parallel parking and turning in the road. To successfully pass the “Independent Driving” part of the test, you will be required, at some point in your test, to pull over to the side of the road at a convenient place. The driving examiner will then ask you to follow a series of directions and traffic signs, to a given destination, you may even be shown a map. Once you pull away you begin independently driving, this means that section of the test has begun. It should last approximately 10 minutes.
Will my independent driving be performed in one go?
This part of the driving test may either be completed in one go, or broken into two sections. Your examiner will inform you how they intend to carry out the “Independent Driving” section of your test as you begin it.
Can I ask the driving examiner which way to go?
Even experienced drivers get lost sometimes. If you feel unsure about which turning you should be taking, if you feel lost and need guidance, or simply can’t see the road signs clearly then the examiner is there to help you. However, you must ask at an appropriate time, remembering to leave enough time to signal and change lanes safely if required. Any dangerous or sudden changes of direction could cause you to fail your driving test whilst independently driving. If you do leave it too late to change, don’t panic. Remember that above all else, this part of the test is designed to demonstrate your ability to make decisions regarding how to get where you are going. It is not a test of your geography or navigation skills.
What will happen if I take the wrong turn?
If the driving test examiner notices that you are about to take the wrong turning in the road, they may intervene. If you do happen to take the wrong turning then the examiner will simply change the route, or help to guide you back to where should be, you can then continue with the “Independent Driving” part of the test. You are not allowed to use a Sat-Nav for this part of the test but you will not be penalised for poor navigation, you will only be penalised during this part of the test for poor or unsafe driving. It’s important to check the road signs and markings and to take the appropriate steps in response to them.
Watch a video of independent driving in a driving test below:
About the Author: Hayley Reeve is the editor of Motor Heads online automotive blog. She also writes regular content for a large variety of commercial motoring websites. Hayley dreams of one day owning the new Mercedes AMG A45.